Thursday, June 23, 2011

Connecting to Other Researchers through

I wrote about using the website to find other researchers with my ancestors in their family trees yesterday in Finding Common Ancestors in the MyHeritage Family Tree.   That post concentrated on using the trees of other researchers to add to my tree.

There is another way to collaborate with other researchers - you can invite other researchers, or family members, to join your tree, and you can request to join the tree of other researchers. 

On my MyHeritage home page:

Below the "Home" tab, there are four links:

1)  What's New (the screen above) - provides links to your family tree, to your family photos, to family statistics, and much more. 

2)  Invite more family (screen below) - provides list of family members, with relationship, a field to insert an email address, and an "Invite" button. 

At the bottom of the screen above, MyHeritage has figured that 5,003 people in my tree may be interested in joining my tree (perhaps they are "living" people?).

3)  Site Members (screen below) - several persons have requested to be a member of my site over the past three years.  At present only one other person, besides myself, is a member:

4)  Find Your Family (screen below) - there is an opportunity to invite persons to your tree using an email address book (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.).

Before I do any of these things, I need to understand just what "being a member of my tree" really means.  There is a helpful "What does this mean" link at the bottom of each of these pages that says, when clicked:

"When you invite someone to be a member of your family site, they are allowed to add content to your site such as photos, videos, documents, news articles, comments, etc.

"If you edit your family tree online, members will also be able to add people to the tree and invite other people to be members of your site.

"The "What’s New" section on your homepage shows you when one of your members adds content to the site or adds to the family tree."

The MyHeritage site sounds very collaborative to me, perhaps too much so.  My thoughts:

*  Adding family members (children, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) to add content
makes a lot of sense - they may be able to contribute unique material to the tree.  Relatives back to third and fourth cousins even make real good sense because they will share a significant portion of my family tree.

*  Adding distant cousins (persons with one or several ancestral families in common) to add content doesn't make as much sense to me.  I can see what they have in their tree through the Smart Matches, and they can see mine.  If I allow them access to my tree, then they can see all of my information (including living persons, research notes, attached documents, etc.).  I risk having my tree corrupted by them if they add wrong information, or delete my information, etc.  Perhaps it's a risk I should take in order to receive the benefit of their research and to share my research in a collaborative spirit.

*  It seems to me that a site like this would be ideal for a Family Surname Association or surname project to permit data to be added by many researchers over a period of time.  It would "take care of itself" as long as the yearly membership fee was paid.

I have some questions that I need answered before I permit access to my tree (unfortunately, I'm not a member of another person's tree, so I can't figure it out myself):

1)  Can a member of my site add, edit, or delete my data, notes, images, etc. that are in my tree?

2)  Can a member of my site upload a GEDCOM file to my site?

3)  Can a member of my site download my original GEDCOM file, or a GEDCOM file of the current site?

4)  If significant content was added to my site by other researchers, can I download the information via GEDCOM to my desktop software program?

5)  If other researchers add content to my site, will the Family Tree Builder desktop program capture it through the automatic or "on demand" synchronization feature?

6)  Can I remove a site member from site access and privileges if I decide to do that?  How much control do I have?

Hopefully, the MyHeritage team will supply answers to my questions.

 Hmm, I finally found the "Help" link at the bottom of the MyHeritage pages in small print - all of these questions can be answered on the Help page ( I imagine.  I guess I should do it myself, but in case a MyHeritage expert wants to answer my questions, I welcome it, and will share the answers with my readers.

The URL of this post is:

(c) 2011. Randall J. Seaver. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to re-publish my content, please contact me for permission, which I will usually grant. If you are reading this on any other genealogy website (other than through an RSS feed), then they have stolen my work.


Caroline said...

Randy, is there a place to put a description of the tree so that visitors to the tree understand that this is a collaborative research tool and not an "end product"?


Christine M. said...

I use MyHeritage & can say that other members of your tree *can* edit & add things (I have a cousin that did so). But as far as what kind of access you give them, I'm not sure. I do know that you can add or delete members if you are the administrator of that tree.

Anthony Steel said...

I discovered that there is personal information about myself and my wife published on the website.

I am not and never have been a member of, have no wish to join and have no associations with anyone one on there and have never consented to any of my personal information being published within

They say; If a privacy breach is suspected, e.g. one relative posts the details of another relative without permission, the company deletes any data as requested by its owners within 1 to 2 business days.

Today I sent in a request to to have any personal data they have regarding my immediate family and myself deleted and here is their response:

This is an automatic response

Thank you for writing to MyHeritage.

E-mail support is a premium feature and is available without limits to our subscribers (Premium, PremiumPlus and Data).

If you already have a premium account on MyHeritage but not under the myemail@mail address, please go to our help center
log in to MyHeritage using your premium account and then send us your question from there.

If you would like to receive direct access to our support team, consider purchasing a data subscription or data credits
You will gain many additional benefits including unlimited searches in MyHeritage SuperSearch™ and access to Record Matches. Learn more here
You are also welcome to use our knowledge base
to find an answer to your question. This is the best way to find answers to the most frequently asked questions at MyHeritage.



My reply:

Are you seriously stating that as a profit making company I have no wish to be associated with and using personal data of my family and I without consent, that I would be required to pay a fee in order to view what you have about me on your website and have deleted?

If this is the case, than this is an outrage.

Why should I be part of a subscription fee company, in which I have no desires to be associated with?

I fully intend to take this matter further, no matter how long it takes.

Anthony Steel

This is an outrage. These companies believe they have a free hand to acquire anyone’s personal information or their subscribers using the facilities and use it in order to support their fee subscription company site, without consent or consideration of those who have no wish to have their details published or available by a company or someone else’s website not pertaining to them.